Culture

Former Big 4 Audit Intern Pens Heartbreaking Tribute to Friend Who Died From ‘Overworking’

We’ve been heavy on the death and depression around these parts lately, and for that I’m sorry. I guess it’s just the nature of the game sometimes. I’m not that sorry, though, because we’re about to talk about completely preventable death some more. A Facebook post from a former Big 4 intern went viral recently […]

Mark Weinberger Says Culture Defines EY, Fails to Define What Culture Actually Is

In the slow-as-molasses, reactive world of public accounting and behemoth professional services firms, there’s no such thing as “old news.” That’s why we’re pulling this three-year-old video out of the vault so we can all point and laugh at EY Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger talking about culture. Or attempting to, anyway. The LOLs start […]

pwc culture

Thanks to Millennials, PwC Now Knows Their People Want Lives Outside of Work, Have the Feels

The history of PricewaterhouseCoopers goes back to 1849 when Samuel Lowell Price set up business in London. Shortly after that, in 1854, William Cooper started his firm, which would later become Cooper Brothers. It’s hard to know what either Price and Cooper were thinking about back then other than outrageous blacksmith prices and how to […]

Reminder: Accounting Firms Hire Lots of Women, Few of Them Become Partners

Here's a tweet from the AICPA Spring Council: #AICPAGC16 pic.twitter.com/jEORHCs8FZ — Pittelkow (@pittelkow) May 17, 2016 It's pretty remarkable that more than 55% of the recruits in 2000 were women. And I think it's equally remarkable that 15 years later, the number of women partner went down. And don't forget, even fewer of those women […]

DHG Can’t Give You Everyday Jeans, But Is Offering Meditation, Standing Desks

Today marks the beginning of the year of the monkey, but in the accounting profession, so far, 2016 has been the YEAR OF THE DENIM. Both Baker Tilly and Crowe Horwath have announced new policies allowing jeans on any day of the week and if you work at either firm, then you're probably excited. Not […]

A Noncomprehensive List of Morale Boosters for Accounting Firms

Accounting firms, who generally eat their young, are all competing for “who has the best perks” in race to scoop up all of the competent new hires. We all know that accounting culture is toxic, but aside from taking all of your allotted vacation so you don’t die at your desk like that one guy, […]

Ex-Employee Chronicles Grant Thornton’s Gutting of CCR After Acquisition

A few Accounting News Roundups ago, Colin linked to a story about Grant Thornton's new tax hub in Bangalore. In that article, GT CEO Stephen Chipman enthusiastically declared his own tax return is prepared by Indians in Bangalore, which is fine for him. What Colin didn't highlight was this quote, in which Chipman declares hiring […]

According to This, Who You Work With Is More Important Than Where You Work

Just a friendly reminder, Vault will be releasing its latest Accounting Rankings — when else — on April 15 so those of you who like to whip it out and compare should mark your calendars accordingly. For now, we get a teaser: This year, we surveyed more than 10,000 accountants at the top 90 accounting […]

Do You Feel Cheated By Your Firm? Come Over Here…

You could go ahead and substitute any firm for any other firm here, but for this particular reader question, it's KPMG v EY. Let's make a little popcorn and see what's going on: Hello,  I hope you're well.  So about a month ago, I heard that EY gave second round raises to the entire West […]

Plante Moran Is Significantly Better To Work For Than the Big 4, According to This

Once again, Colin buried this in ANR but it's worth shouting from the rooftops, at least for Plante Moran. These lists are bullshit as we all know but it is pretty significant that Plante Moran grabbed the #23 spot, especially after that embarrassing staff celebration party video we shared forever ago. Here's the press release […]

Reminder for Public Accounting Professionals: Working Long Hours Is Dumb

Fall is a quiet time of year for most capital market servants, and with the holidays coming up, it's about to get quieter.   That will all change in early months of 2014 when working long days, nights, and weekends will become the norm at firms around the country. It's a depressing thought for many. […]

Deloitte Partner Encourages Brethren to Take Back Their Firm

As previously discussed, making partner at a Big 4 firm is no small feat. It takes years of work, some political savvy and luck. When you finally get a seat at the big table, you discover that everything leading up to that point was simply the beginning. Now that you’re calling the shots, you have big responsibility, be willing to resist temptation, and try to keep employees happy. Not an easy task but that’s why they get paid the big bucks, right?

But forget all that. Partners, as we know, are owners. They have an equity stake in their firm and have a say in how the firm should be run. Or do they have that say? One Deloitte partner, a twenty year veteran of the firm, reached out to us recently to express their concern about the upcoming election of new leadership at the Green Dot:

I’m an audit partner with Deloitte. Don’t want to bore you with the fact that I love the firm, and I am a die-hard D&Ter. But, all firms have their faults, right? Even Deloitte. While we tout and sell “Good Governance” strategies – our own governance process is severely BROKEN.

What many may not know is that Deloitte has an election year happening in 2011. Yes – Sharon Allen is off to retirement [Ed. note: PARTY! – Oh sorry, this is serious], and so is Jim Quigley. No tears for them…they have very rich retirement packages that will keep them wealthy for decades to come.

We’ve already been through our “Nominating Committee” process, where all the partners are able to be interviewed by committee members and submit nominations of individuals that they would like to see in different leadership roles. The elected individuals are the Chairman, the CEO, and a CEO “Alternate.” The CEO “Alternate” is there in the event that the CEO elect is also elected as the Global CEO (which will typically happen).

We’ll jump in here to make a quick point: our tipster reiterated to us that (s)he loves Deloitte and the motivation for reaching out to us is due to his/her commitment to the firm. (S)he even admitted that reaching out to GC seemed odd but clarified it to us this way, “It is akin to someone that loves their country and wants to improve upon it because we know we have the right to speak out and improve our country. Right now, our election process at Deloitte is broken.”

ANYWAY:

The thing that angers many partners – but few voice this concern – is that the Nominating Committee Process and the “election” of the Firm’s leadership is a farce. The “independent” Committee comes up with their recommended candidates after hearing the soundings of the partners. I should add that Committee is selected by the Board and Management. There is no “election” to approve the Committee. Then the Committee comes to a conclusion on ONE set of recommended candidates, and the Board approves that recommendation (shocking). Then, the partners get to vote “YES or NO” on the “slate” of candidates that is advanced. This “election” occurs in late February/early March. The leaders must be installed in June. So what if the partners said NO? What would the leadership team do then?? Guess what – they don’t care! Because they know the partners always say YES! It is so painful. And nobody is willing to challenge this process. Because – you have three camps of partners. (1) the camp that doesn’t care and never will because it “doesn’t affect my daily life; (2) the camp that is so rich in the number of units they have, they wouldn’t upset the apple cart because they make too much money to want to risk it even though they know it is wrong, and (3) the younger partners who fear retribution of having their “heads cut off” for speaking up.

Jumping in again – we spoke to a former Deloitte partner, who confirmed the broad details of the process and also the widely-held notion that the election process is a “farce.” This former partner also confirmed this is a feeling held by many partners, especially the freshly minted ones. In addition to the fear of retribution, he said that younger partners also feel apathetic, being of the mindset that the “nominating committee won’t listen to me” and they are being given “lip service” by leadership. Further, for many young partners, simply joining this exclusive club is exciting enough that few pay attention and, oh yeah, they have TONS of work to do. As for the “gray-haired partners,” our source confirmed their attitudes as well, saying that there would be little motivation to speak up when they are “riding out their careers” or have a lot vested with the firm already.

Getting back:

The thing is that these leaders represent our firm, manage our firm, and control our collective destinies. They also rig the elections. And they then tout, continuously, the importance of the “Sense of Partnership.” The truth is that Deloitte is not run like a partnership. Yes, the partners have capital at risk, we are owners of the “Firm.” But, we are not appropriately represented. We lack a true collective voice. We keep quiet for the “good of the Firm.” And, we are now going to embark on a new “BOLD LEADERSHIP” move that is being done to passify all the various interests of our firm (Consulting, Audit and Tax). The thing is – we don’t attempt to have our partners select the BEST leaders – but simply the leaders that a select few believe fit a set of criteria that are BEST for us ignorant partners. It’s a bit like the government telling us what is good for us.

It angers me. And, I wish that I could wake up every Deloitte partner and have them realize this. But – if I did this – I’d likely be fired. So, I’m sending this to you to see if you can help WAKE up our Partners!! They should VOTE NO to the nominating committees recommended leaders. We need to take back our firm, much like the American voters took back our country.

[Signed,]
An anonymous Deloitte partner who cares deeply about our Firm and our culture.

Our “anonymous Deloitte partner” speculated that 75% of partners share his/her feelings on this. What’s been the catalyst to all this frustration? Well, the former Deloitte partner we spoke to said that it’s a partly the nature of the governance process itself but it has been made worse by how leadership handled layoffs and the economic crisis during 2008-2009. As you may remember, Deloitte leadership admitted that the May ’09 layoffs were handled poorly last spring, however, morale amongst partners remains extremely low.

Just to add a few more things from the “anonymous Deloitte partner” – when we asked about the details of the nominating process, the response we received was that while it was a “cordial” and that the partners that serve on the committee feel as though they are doing “God’s work,” but ultimately it is a “falsehood.” The former Deloitte partner confirmed this, who told us he had a friend who served on the nominating committee who joked with him about flying around the country, “listening to crap,” throughout the exercise.

When we asked about the firm’s leadership considering a more democratic process (i.e. partners are nominated by vote), that doesn’t appear to be on the table because another firm does it that way, “In situations where our CEO has been asked about the process, Barry Salzberg stated that our firm doesn’t want a divisive culture where certain partners get their feelings hurt in a race for the CEO spot or other positions. ‘That’s not part of our culture. That is what PwC does, and we don’t want to do that.’ ”

Stepping back from all this (we realize it’s a lot), if we were a run-of-the-mill Deloitte partner, it be pretty difficult to see this as an equitable process. As we said at the outset, being a partner means having a say in how the business is run. Granted, when you’re talking about a firm as large as Deloitte, there has to be centralized leadership but wouldn’t you want a direct voice in determining who that leadership is and not simply up or down on a list of names handed to you? It sounds like a lot of partners at Deloitte are feeling shut out of this process. Maybe some don’t care but many new and aspiring partners probably do (Millennial attitude and all) and this lack of true representation will certainly make some think twice about their long-term careers with the firm.

Best Accounting Firms for Comp, Treatment by Managers, Green Initiatives, Hours and More

Catching our breath from our series of Vault posts from last month, we return with their latest offerings – Best Firms to Work For. Now, if you’re confused as how this is different from their featured column, this series looks at specific areas where firms thrive (methodology here). No prestige debate here. These are some of the areas that factored more heavily into Vault’s featured ranking.

There are several lists so we’ll break them up into two posts. Each list features 20 firms so we’ll share the top three in each and point out where some notables rank.

Starting with everyone’s favorite:

Compensation
1. Marcum – Melville, NY
2. Goodman & Co. – Virginia Beach, VA
3. Elliot Davis – Greenville, SC
10. Rothstein Kass – Roseland, NJ (#1 last year)
17. Deloitte – NYC
18. Moss Adams – Seattle
20. PwC – NYC


Treatment by Managers
1. Kaufman Rossin, & Co. – Miami
2. Marcum
3. Elliot Davis
10. Rothstein Kass
14. Deloitte
16. PwC
20. Moss Adams

Culture
1. Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
2. WithumSmith+Brown, PC – Princeton, NJ
3. Eide Bailly – Fargo, ND
8. Rothstein Kass
13. PwC
14. Deloitte
20. Moss Adams

Business Outlook
1. Marcum
2. Kaufman, Rossin, & Co.
3. Goodman & Co.
6. PwC (#1 last year)
9. Deloitte
11. Rothstein Kass
18. Moss Adams

Green Initatives
1. Goodman & Co.
2. Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
3. Rothstein Kass
4. PwC
6. Deloitte
14. Moss Adams

Hours
1. Marcum
2. Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
3. Elliott Davis
10. Rothstein Kass
16. Moss Adams
19. Deloitte
20. PwC

Dive in. Debate. Debunk.